If you’ve ever tried to make your own music before, you know what a rush the experience can be—and what a challenge.
Making music is an open-ended task that uses a full spectrum of tools, tricks, and techniques. For a beginner, it’s easy to get lost in the details and lose sight of what you’re trying to do.
If you’re just starting out on the rewarding journey of music making, these seven essential tips can help you stay on track, and create more of the tunes you love.
1. Practice Your Techniques
This first tip may seem obvious, but it’s one that many aspiring musicians skip.
Playing an instrument isn’t the same as practicing with one. Though it may seem tempting to jump over technique and right into music production—or to jump into your editing software to play with your sound—mastering basic techniques can help you make better music in the long run.
In other words, one of the best things you can do for yourself is making time to build your knowledge and skills using the standard best practices for learning any instrument. Do a warm-up routine, practice your scales, and strive to maintain and enhance your abilities wherever possible.
2. Know Your Gear
If you’re hoping to become a professional musician, you’ll need to have a thorough understanding of all of your equipment in addition to basic skills. Without knowing the ins and outs of your chosen instrument, it’s much harder to produce a great sound.
This goes for all of the tools you pick up for the job. No matter what DAW you prefer, understand the ins and outs of the software. Know the limitations of your mic, MIDI controller, and audio interface.
That said, it’s worth noting that the producer makes the music, not the gear. Even the best tools in the world can’t help you if you don’t follow the first step on this list!
3. Get a Solid Foundation
As the foundation of any song you produce, drums are extremely important when recording music. A great beat or drum break can mean the difference between a song that bangs and one that’s forgettable in seconds.
Many beginners, especially those without a background in drum loops, might be hesitant at first—but don’t be afraid to experiment! If you’re not sure where to get started with making a beat, sleuth around online for videos and tips on making a beat. Alternatively, if you prefer buying a beat to get a solid foundation for your songs, these pop beats are a great place to get started.
4. Don’t Wait for Inspiration to Strike
Inspiration is the biggest pipe dream you’ll encounter in the world of music. People love the romantic notion that inspiration is what makes the greatest songs, but the truth is a little more down-to-earth.
In today’s busy world, waiting for inspiration means letting valuable time pass you by. Instead, you’ll need to make your inspiration come to you. Some of the world’s most successful people swear by the idea of consistency, which can help create phenomenal work.
Setting aside time to work on your music on a regular basis forces you to sit down and practice, experiment, and produce more music. In addition to a consistent schedule, setting goals can help as well. Whether you want to learn a new scale by heart or finish your song by the end of the week, goals can keep you feeling productive and motivated as you ramp up your skills.
5. Don’t Rely Too Much on Effects
With music production software in hand, it’s easy to get tempted by the huge spectrum of available effects. However, don’t rely on these too much, especially at first.
Effects can be hard to remove unless you’ve put them in a separate channel of your DAW. Even better, Effects are tempting
Hard to remove effects unless you put them in a separate channel. Better yet, record “dry.” This means you keep your recordings clean on the way in, allowing you to mix effects and get creative in post-production.
6. Hone Your Craft
Sure, there are plenty of so-called “self-taught” music producers in the world. However, as with anything else, one of the fastest ways to get better at something is to find someone to help. If you can, reach out to a teacher or mentor, in person or online, to ramp up your skills and gain experience fast.
Even if you’re strapped for cash, there’s no reason not to keep learning! Find communities of like-minded people and make opportunities to talk shop when you can. Alternatively, you can reach out to a friend with experience in the music world, take a free course on songwriting or musical theory, watch YouTube video explainers, or seek out online chord charts and manuals for extra help.
7. Listen to Different Genres
No matter what musical style you’re going for, listening to music from other genres can help you learn new styles and reach musical breakthroughs you never would have had otherwise.
After all, some of the world’s greatest music combines sounds from different genres. For example, jazz was famously born through the combination of African tribal music and European instruments, among other things. Traditional folk music continues to have a huge influence on even modern country songs.
At the end of the day, all great artists steal. Whether you’re writing a song or finding a beat, listening to a range of music for inspiration can help you find success.
8. Carve Your Own Path
Yes, this last tip comes right after we told you to borrow from other influences!
As important as influences are, especially when you’re just starting out, music is about expressing yourself. Don’t aim to sound exactly like any existing artist or producer; share what you love! After all, no one will want to listen to songs that sound like an exact clone of someone else’s.
Take a Leap When Making Music
When you’re making music, don’t be afraid to move out of your comfort zone. Despite the challenge, these tips are a great way for any beginner to get started. Following them may be frustrating at times, but the rewards—mastering your craft and making great music—are more than worth it!
For more tips to help you reach those creative breakthroughs, check out our other posts.